Attacks on the Press in 2013

Attacks on the Press   |   Syria

Syrian Journalists Strive to Report, Despite Shifting Dangers

They call themselves citizen journalists, media workers, or media activists. Amid the chaos of conflict, they are determined to gather and distribute the news. By María Salazar-Ferro

Journalists Bryn Karcha, center, of Canada, and Toshifumi Fujimoto, right, of Japan, run for cover with an unidentified fixer in Aleppo's district of Salaheddine on December 29, 2012. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)
Journalists Bryn Karcha, center, of Canada, and Toshifumi Fujimoto, right, of Japan, run for cover with an unidentified fixer in Aleppo's district of Salaheddine on December 29, 2012. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)

Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Hassan Rouhani and the Hope for More Freedom in Iran

The new president may have limited power to enact change, but the practical needs for communications technology may work in favor of a freer press. By D. Parvaz

In his early months in office, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, pictured in Tehran June 17, 2013, focused primarily on foreign affairs. (Reuters/Fars News/Majid Hagdost)
In his early months in office, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, pictured in Tehran June 17, 2013, focused primarily on foreign affairs. (Reuters/Fars News/Majid Hagdost)

Attacks on the Press   |   Bahrain

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Bahrain

Despite King Hamad’s praise for the press as the “cornerstone of human rights and a mirror of our fledgling democracy,” the Bahraini government continued to crack down on anyone challenging the official narrative. Journalists covering opposition protests were harassed, detained, and deported, while some were attacked by opposition protesters who considered them biased. The government arrested at least three bloggers and photographers in the lead-up to a major opposition protest on August 14. A court upheld the acquittal of a policewoman accused of torturing a journalist in 2011. Authorities continued to clamp down on online expression by blocking websites, infiltrating social media accounts, prosecuting citizens who insulted officials, and considering restrictions on Internet-based telecommunications services. Bahraini blogger Ali Abdel Imam, convicted on anti-state charges, was forced to flee into exile after hiding for two years from Bahraini authorities.

February 12, 2014 1:11 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Egypt

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Egypt

The deeply polarized Egyptian press was battered by an array of repressive tactics throughout 2013, from the legal and physical intimidation during the tenure of former President Mohamed Morsi to the widespread censorship by the military-backed government that replaced him. Morsi and his supporters pushed through a repressive constitution, used politicized regulations, pursued retaliatory criminal cases, and employed physical intimidation of critics. After his ouster, the military-led government shut down pro-Morsi news media and obstructed coverage supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and the toppled president. Within three months, at least five journalists were killed and dozens detained without charges. At least 10 television stations and news outlets were raided, and at least five journalists remained behind bars when CPJ conducted its annual prison census. In September, the interim president appointed a 50-member committee to amend Egypt's 2012 Constitution. The committee produced a draft that would ease several press restrictions, including limiting the scope of criminal prosecution of journalists. The draft will be put to a referendum in mid-January 2014.

February 12, 2014 1:10 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Iran

Iran remained one of the most censored countries in the world. In the lead-up to the June 2013 presidential elections, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government pre-emptively arrested journalists, banned publications, harassed family members of exiled journalists, and brought the Internet to a slow crawl. Reformist journalists were not the only targets, as various regime factions fought among themselves and attempted to silence their rivals. International journalists had difficulty acquiring visas, and those who did were often subject to strict supervision on the ground. The government said its crackdown on the press was necessary to unravel a foreign conspiracy led by the BBC to undermine the Islamic Republic. But Iranian citizens began to voice hope that a new era of reform would begin with the election of a more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, and his apparent support from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It was not clear in late year whether that hope would manifest into greater press freedom in the country, and the revolving doors of Iran’s prisons continued to turn.

February 12, 2014 1:09 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iraq

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Iraq

In a 2006 book, the late New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid summed up the future of Iraq as ghamidh, meaning “unclear” or “ambiguous” in Arabic. Seven years later, uncertainty continued to exacerbate the threats that journalists faced. Newspaper offices were attacked by unknown assailants, and journalists were threatened, assaulted, and detained. At least 10 journalists were killed in 2013, but the assailants and their motives were frequently unclear. For all the uncertainty and ambiguity, one truth remained clear: Central government officials and Kurdish regional authorities repeatedly attempted to silence critical voices through a combination of detentions, the denial of credentials, the suspension of television licenses, and raids of stations. Iraqi journalists continued to call for revisions to the Journalist Protection Law, which CPJ criticized for its ambiguous and restrictive provisions. In a sign of hope, the Iraqi parliament withdrew a draft Information Crimes bill that would have restricted online journalism. Still, with so much uncertainty and so little security, journalists continue to flee into exile, amid fears that Iraq could slide back into the dark days of civil war.

February 12, 2014 1:08 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Despite the immense differences between the Israeli government, Fatah, and Hamas, they shared a common trait in 2013: a consistent and troublesome record of silencing journalists who reported dissenting perspectives. The revolving door on Israeli prisons continued to spin, as the government arrested multiple Palestinian journalists while releasing others. Palestinian journalists are often held under administrative detention, which effectively allows the Israeli government to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge. Israeli security forces sought to constrict coverage of Palestinian demonstrations, with journalists under threat of injury and detention. Local human rights organizations reported that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank also obstructed coverage of protests, especially those in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Hamas also restricted coverage of protests and opposition movements in Gaza. Hamas authorities shut down several media offices, including the Ramallah-based Ma'an and Al-Arabiya. In March, President Mahmoud Abbas pardoned a journalist who had been convicted of insulting him. Israeli journalists, however, enjoy greater freedom than any other press corps in the region, even as they face government censorship for articles concerning national security.

February 12, 2014 1:07 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Jordan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Jordan

Although Jordanian journalists continued to enjoy greater freedom than most of their regional colleagues, that freedom was nonetheless restricted. The government continued its attempt to control the online media as it already controls traditional media. As CPJ had warned last year, the Jordanian government used the amended Press and Publications Law to block hundreds of websites that had failed to register with the government, despite protests by local journalists and promises by government officials to discuss amending the law. The country also ranked below the regional average in Internet use. The government maintained its long-standing practice of restricting coverage of sensitive issues, including local protests and the royal family. At the same time, Jordan opened its doors to numerous international journalists covering the massive influx of Syrian refugees into the country.

February 12, 2014 1:06 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Morocco

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Morocco

The Moroccan government continued its practice of targeting journalists and news outlets in connection with their critical coverage of taboo subjects, such as the health of the king or the royal family. One editor of an investigative weekly was convicted of defamation in relation to an article he wrote that said a government minister had drunk alcohol. The editor was fined and handed a two-month suspended prison sentence. Another editor was charged with promoting terrorism under the country's 2003 anti-terrorism law for publishing a link to a video of an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group. After an international outcry by more than 60 free-expression organizations, the editor was released on bail, but he still faces charges. In its annual census conducted on December 1, CPJ documented one journalist behind bars, a decrease from previous years.

February 12, 2014 1:05 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Libya

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Libya

As Libya's growing media sector faced threats from state and non-state actors alike, the country continued to struggle to realize the promise of the 2011 revolution. Several journalists were physically assaulted by security guards outside the General National Congress (GNC) in February. The same month, the government confirmed the appointment of the country's first minister of information since the Qaddafi era, which made some journalists fear the government intended to assert greater control over the media. But the greatest threats to journalists came from the government's inability to protect them. At least eight journalists were briefly abducted in 2013, while raids on news outlets and attacks on reporters continued. No journalists were imprisoned in late year, but the government continued to pursue a case against an editor who was accused of insulting the judiciary. At least one journalist was killed for his work this year, after no journalists were killed for their work in 2012.

February 12, 2014 1:04 AM ET

2013

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